The genus Streptococcus is one of the most genomically diverse and important human and agricultural pathogens. The acquisition of genomic islands (GIs) plays a central role in adaptation to new hosts in the genus pathogens. The research presented here employs a comparative genomics approach to define a novel family of GIs in the genus Streptococcus which also appears across strains of the same species. Specifically, we identified 9 Streptococcus genomes out of 67 sequenced genomes analyzed, and we termed these as 15bp Streptococcus genomic islands, or 15SGIs, including i) insertion adjacent to the 3′ end of ribosome l7/l12 gene, ii) large inserts of horizontally acquired DNA, and iii) the presence of mobility genes (integrase) and replication initiators. We have identified a novel family of 15SGIs and seems to be important in species differentiation and adaptation to new hosts. It plays an important role during strain evolution in the genus Streptococcus.
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